This Lemon Raspberry Bar recipe was inspired by Chef Thomas Keller’s Lemon Meringue Bar from the French Laundry Cookbook. I love fluffy, marshmallowy meringue (known as Italian meringue) as he presents it in the cookbook, but I couldn’t resist adding a raspberry layer thinking it would be a nice pairing to the lemon and a great use of the sweet raspberries before the season dwindles down, not to mention the gorgeous color.
The chilled lemon curd is tart yet sweet giving these bars a whole lotta citrus love on a sweet shortbread-like cookie crust and goodness gracious is it creamy and dreamy. Tart and sweet: one of the best pairings … if you love lemon you will LOVE the lemon bars.
I guarantee you, no one would ever know there isn’t a stick of butter in this dessert. I won’t tell.
For those who know me, it does not come to a surprise that I will peruse Thomas Kellers’ cookbooks as if I don’t have a care in the world. I admire his passion for food and kvell (yiddish for pleasure) at his artistry.
Though I haven’t gone to culinary school, I like to think adapting recipes from great chefs to gluten/dairy/soy free delicious versions is genuinely possible. When I do, it makes my heart melt, and to see my family take in every bite with the utmost glee is pure pleasure. Hope you love it as much as we do. Enjoy!
Serves 12 medium or 9 large bars
Crust and Fillings can be made up to 2 days in advance.
5 ounces Earth Balance Soy Free Spread, room temperature
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon caster sugar (fine sugar)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla paste, or extract
1 cup millet flour
1/2 cup sweet white rice flour
1/4 cup arrowroot starch plus 1 tablespoon
1 cup fresh lemon juice, about 12 lemons
6 large eggs
6 large egg yolks
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
4 ounces Earth Balance Soy Free Spread or other non-dairy butter spread, in chunks, room temperature
3 pints fresh raspberries or frozen raspberries
4 tablespoons simple syrup (see recipe below)
1 1/2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 teaspoon arrowroot
1/4 cup water plus 1 1/2 teaspoon water, divided
1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 cup water
3/4 cup cane sugar
Put into a saucepan over medium-high heat, boil for 5 minutes until sugar dissolved. Take out heat. Cool completely before using. Remaining simple syrup can be used for cocktails. Store in refrigerator up to a month.
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a handheld mixer, set on low-speed cream Earth Balance spread and sugar for about 1 minute until homogenous. Increase speed to medium-high and beat another 2 minutes, until the mixture is light, and creamy, scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula as necessary. Add the vanilla. Add the flour, a 1/4 cup at a time, blend until just fully incorporated. Do not over mix. The dough should not form into a ball, but should stick together if you squeeze it in your hands.
For the crust:
Transfer the dough to a half sheet pan (about 12×16 inches) lined with parchment paper. Pat it down into the sheet pan just enough so that it is somewhat leveled. Wrap the baking sheet in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or up to 2 days if making ahead.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C).
Once chilled, take out and gently pat down while spreading the dough evenly until it is fully spread out to about a 1/4 inch thickness. Refrigerate for 5 minutes before baking.
Bake the crust until golden brown, 15-20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway for even browning. Let it cool to room temperature on the baking sheet. Transferring while hot will crack the crust.
For the lemon filling:
Combine the lemon juice, eggs, yolks, Earth Balance, and sugar in a glass bowl (slightly larger than your saucepan so it will sit put) over a saucepan with two inches high of simmering water. The bowl should not come in contact with the simmering water, otherwise, it will curdle and whisk for 5 minutes using one whisk of an electric mixer. It should appear very foamy and thick enough to coat a spoon when ready. Take off heat, set aside, but don’t put the whisk into the sink yet.
Empty the saucepan, then dry and transfer the egg mixture to the saucepan and stick a candy thermometer to the interior of the saucepan (or have a temperature gauge handy). Continue to whisk about 5 more minutes until thick and has reached 170 degrees F on a thermometer. Pour into a bowl, directly cover lemon curd with plastic wrap (so it clings onto the curd to prevent a film), and cool at room temperature for a few minutes before refrigerating for 2 hours, or overnight.
For the raspberry filling:
In a small saucepan set over medium-high heat, combine simple syrup, raspberries, 1/4 cup water (remaining water is for arrowroot), and caster sugar. Whisk occasionally while it comes to a boil, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine arrowroot and 1 1/2 teaspoon water in a small bowl.
When the raspberries come to a full boil, vigorously whisk in the arrowroot mixture. Add gelatin, and continue to vigorously whisk for another minute, then reduce heat to medium and cook 10-15 minutes longer until the filling has reduced about an inch. The filling will appear thin, it will thicken as it chills. Transfer to a bowl, then let it cool to room temperature and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
When fillings have been completely chilled, assemble bars.
With a large thin cake frosting spatula, or knife, spread out the lemon curd evenly over the crust. Set it in the freezer for 30 minutes then spread raspberry mixture evenly over the set lemon curd.
Chill the bars for 2 hours, then cut squares with a sharp knife before serving.
Notes: This recipe is easy to make ahead. Simply pre-cut squares then place them back on the baking sheet (or plastic freezer-safe containers in a single layer), set a sheet of wax paper over then triple ply with plastic wrap. Thaw at room temperature 15-20 minutes before serving. Serve chilled. It will freeze well for a month.
If raspberries are unavailable: try strawberries, blueberries, or mulberries, all compliment the lemon curd.
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